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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Time’s Up for Faux Liberals

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Karen Lehrman Bloch
Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic; author of The Lipstick Proviso: Women, Sex & Power in the Real World (Doubleday) and The Inspired Home: Interiors of Deep Beauty (Harper Design); Editor of International Political Affairs at The Weekly Blitz; and curator of the book and exhibition Passage to Israel (Skyhorse).

“Farrakhan has pulled the cover off the eyes of the Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” Louis Farrakhan, referring to himself in the third person, told a cheering Nation of Islam crowd of thousands in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

How nice that Farrakhan, 84, has been able to stay rhetorically on trend. Actually, his genocidal bigotry is so on trend that Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, was shocked — shocked! — that anyone would care that she attended this largely anti-Semitic rally, that she would get a shoutout from the good minister, and even pose for a photo with him on Instagram afterward.

Truth be told, Mallory had every reason to be shocked. When co-leader Linda Sarsour said that anti-Semitism is “not systemic,” that you can’t be a feminist and a Zionist — when she publicly embraced terrorist Rasmea Odeh — there was barely a peep from those left of center.

In fact, the unpleasant reality that Sarsour and co-leader Carmen Perez also have close ties to Farrakhan — the man the Anti-Defamation League calls “the leading anti-Semite in America”—didn’t stir any pot either.

So, why would Mallory think that the normalization of hate against Jews — a key part of the “intersectionality” that the Women’s March quartet touts — would cause such a ruckus?

What Mallory wasn’t counting on was the fact that Farrakhan’s blatant focus on Jews — not Zionists and Israel — would actually motivate the normally silent to open their mouths. Jews on the far left are often called self-haters for kowtowing to the likes of Sarsour. But clearly it’s not self-hatred — it’s more like they’re happy to hide behind an anti-Zionist cover when needed: regressive chic at its finest.

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred. So it’s good to know that when push comes to genocide, left-of-center Jews will not be silent. We can now call this the Farrakhan Line: Jews on the left will put their foot down when Israel is not mentioned.

Words, as Jews know in their veins, have consequences.

Indeed, a month before Farrakhan’s speech, the ADL published a report showing that 2017 saw a 67 percent rise in anti-Jewish hate speech, harassment, vandalism and violence.

This seems like a good opportunity to distinguish real liberals from faux liberals, whether they call themselves progressives or leftists or socialists.

Remarkably, the Wikipedia definition of liberalism has remained intact: “Liberalism is a political philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views … but generally support [the principles of] freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and gender equality.”

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred.

This is the key line: Liberals espouse a wide array of views. Meaning, you and I can disagree on how to enforce, for instance, freedom of speech. But if you don’t stand for the principle of freedom of speech, you can’t call yourself a liberal. (Social justice warriors on campus, please take note.)

And speaking of words, I’ve been increasingly seeing the word “gaslighting” in relation to President Donald Trump. Gaslighting is “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt … in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”

Personally, I don’t see this as a conscious or unconscious Trump tactic. But I very much see this as a progressive/leftist tactic. From baseless attacks on Israel to Holocaust denial/minimization, to outright Jew hatred, progressives/leftists are, consciously or not, trying to gaslight Jews.

And so, I ask my fellow liberals: Why are you so desperate to be included in these “progressive” groups? Why not work to restrengthen the liberal center? Liberalism, by definition, includes both feminism and Zionism.

And I say to the leaders of the Women’s March: Time’s up for faux liberals and faux feminists.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.

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